Creating change: Shire joins regional climate alliance

August 12, 2021 BY

The Surf Coast Shire council has already taken some steps towards climate action, including installing a collective 135kW of solar panels across four of its buildings. Photo: SURF COAST SHIRE

THE Surf Coast Shire council has signed on to be in the ninth and final group of municipalities across Victoria working together to tackle the impacts of climate change.

At their meeting on July 27, eight of the nine councillors voted for the shire to become a founding member of the Barwon South West Climate Alliance, and to become a paid member of the alliance when it is established later this year.

Other prospective member organisations in the alliance include the four other G21 councils; the shire and city councils of Corangamite, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Glenelg and Warrnambool; the Corangamite and Glenelg Hopkins catchment management authorities, Barwon Water, Wannon Water and Deakin University.

The councils in the Barwon South West region will be the last in Victoria to become part of a Climate Alliance or Greenhouse Alliance, which are formal partnerships of local governments and interested agencies that drive action on climate change.

The decision follows the council’s June endorsement of a Climate Emergency Corporate Response Plan, and a move to 100 per cent renewable electricity supply for all council facilities from July 1 through partnership with the Victorian Energy Collaboration (VECO), Australia’s largest local government emissions reduction project.

The council also declared a climate emergency in August 2019 after receiving petitions with more than 1,000 signatures calling for leadership on climate action.

Cr Kate Gazzard said membership of the Barwon South West Climate Alliance would bring many benefits, and increase the council’s ability to make a difference.

“We look forward to sharing knowledge and inspiration with our alliance partners and contributing to regional action on climate change,”
she said.

“VECO demonstrates the value in large-scale partnership, and as part of the Barwon South West Climate Alliance we may see opportunities in areas like collaborative procurement and grant applications, policy development and access to data, as well as cost savings through participation in joint projects.”

The alliance’s establishment is being funded and supported by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, with each council’s annual membership fee expected to be $15,000.

Cr Paul Barker voted against the motion.

I can appreciate it might seem a pretty small cost to do all these great things, with one of the benefits being the ability to attract large sources of funding, but where those sources of funding come from, I’m not too sure yet,” he said.

“We’ve already been the recipients of some significant pork barreling, and I concede while this might not be pork barreling as such, if that’s coming from a source of funding that’s either state or federal, we’re pretty much just taking money off other people rather than working on it ourselves.”

Cr Liz Pattison rejected the suggestion that VECO was pork barreling.

“It’s a commercial contract through RedEnergy, and because it’s such a significant contract, with 79 councils coming together to engage RedEnergy to provide all their energy needs via renewable sources over a nine-year contract, we’re able to negotiate such great rates for that renewable energy. It results in a 35 per cent reduction and a $2.5 million saving across the life of the contract,” she said.